Red Bear Angels sits down with ~20 Cornell entrepreneurs every month – that’s at least 240 innovations spinning out of the Cornell student, faculty and alumni network every year!

Ever wonder how there are just so many Cornellians starting companies? It’s because of all of the great resources on campus that harness that entrepreneurial spirit.

Enter Zach Shulman: The man behind the curtain of Cornell entrepreneurship. We caught up with Zach for the first installment in our series. 

RBA: Tell us about yourself in a tweet.
ZS: Zach Shulman, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell and VC with Cayuga Venture Fund

RBA: What drove you to Cornell entrepreneurship?
ZS: I moved back to Ithaca in late 1995 and started teaching as an adjunct right away.  I was still a corporate lawyer at the time and then became general counsel at a start up.   That company went bankrupt in the Internet bubble in 2001 and then I started teaching full-time at the Johnson school.  I joined the venture fund in 2004, but stayed at the Johnson school focusing more on programmatic activities and student mentoring.   And now I run the overall Eship program at the University but I’m still partner at the VC fund.    Absolutely nothing was planned. I just took advantage of what was presented to me at the time. Call it luck!

RBA: What’s one trend you’re seeing among entrepreneurs at Cornell?
ZS: Most of my time is focused on Ithaca. And one trend I’m seeing more and more is that students are more willing to start companies while they are students. We try to make them understand that it’s basically riskless to do so as they still have the university setting to fall back on if the start up fails.  This ability and willingness to take risk is critical.

RBA: Who is the entrepreneur you most commonly reference as a role model for your students and why?
ZS: I honestly don’t have one. For me it’s important to think about what the student needs in a role model. There are many different needs and therefore many different role models.

RBA: What’s one tip you have for folks who are looking to access great investment opportunities spinning out of Cornell?
ZS: My one piece of advice is to make the effort to get to campus. Hanging out at campus gives you the best exposure.